A President, A Governor, A Worker and the Rule of Law

by Burr Deming

When we compare the prosecutions in Wisconsin and Alabama under the last Republican administration with that of our current President, the contrast is cruel and unusual.

Sometimes we forget that the collateral damage of political corruption can be real people.

In 2006 George Bush aide, Karl Rove, secretly ordered US Attorneys to stop investigating Republicans. Instead they were to investigate and prosecute Democrats on any pretext they could find. Nine Republicans who had been appointed by then President George W. Bush refused. They were fired. Some were open about the reasons they were let go.

Rove denied ordering anyone to prosecute anyone; or to stop prosecuting anyone. Still, the nine were fired.

There was a time that would not have been possible without hearings on any permanent replacements. But the anti-terrorist Patriot Act allowed for interim appointments with no time limit.

One who was not fired for refusing to follow the orders was the US Attorney in charge of the Eastern District of Wisconsin. That resulted in a horrible surprise for one state employee.

It seems a quiet career civil servant, Georgia Thompson, was on a panel to award an important travel contract.

She was not active politically, but the governor was a Democrat. So the US Attorney accused her of conspiring to award the contract to the wrong company.

That accusation might have seemed a little difficult to prove. The contract had been given to the lowest bidder. But the loyal Bush appointee said that a competitor, one who would have been charged more, would have been a better choice. The higher priced competitor should have gotten the contract.

Georgia Thompson was not the real target. She was offered a deal. If she would testify against the Governor, charges would be dropped. But there was a problem. She insisted she was not only innocent, she had no knowledge of any crime, and she barely knew the Governor. She was adamant. The contract had been awarded properly to the lowest bidder.

So she was charged, prosecuted, and convicted. She was sentenced to a year and a half by a Bush appointed judge with a reputation as a highly motivated ideologue. She appealed the conviction.

The Appeals Court overruled the conviction almost immediately. They did not even wait for the unanimous opinion to be put into writing. They ordered her released that minute. The Appeals Court ruled the evidence was less than adequate. The phrase the head Justice used was beyond thin.

The US Attorney himself was later investigated over the unwarranted prosecution but no evidence of actual illegality on his part was discovered.

So justice was done, right?

But justice has a cost. Georgia Thompson had lost her job and her salary. She had lost her home, her savings, and her pension, all to pay for her defense. In the end, she had nothing left but her freedom.

In Alabama, the Governor ended up without even that.

There were substantial reasons for the US Attorney to prosecute. It wasn’t just that the Governor was a Democrat. He had pushed for a state lottery to finance higher education for students who could not afford college on their own. Voters had to approve the new lottery and a campaign was launched. Famous Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff represented established gambling interests from nearby states. They had no use for additional competition.

The measure was defeated. Too bad.

And the Governor was targeted for prosecution.

It seems a business executive had contributed to the campaign in favor of the lottery and the financing of college for students who were financially struggling. The executive was on an advisory committee for how hospitals were regulated. He had been appointed by a Republican governor, then asked to stay on by the next Republican governor, then by the Republican governor after that.

Later, Democratic Governor Don Siegelman asked the executive to stay on as well. It was a volunteer position. There was no pay. But the governor suggested that the executive had already proven his public spirit, and he should continue his own tradition. He had become an expert in hospital regulation. He should volunteer again.

So the US Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama accused the Governor of corruption. He was convicted of making a political appointment in exchange for a political contribution.

That struck some as a little far-fetched. The contribution was to a ballot initiative that would not benefit the governor, and the political appointment was to a non-paying volunteer position that would not benefit the business executive.

Later documents were unearthed revealing some of the misconduct of US Attorneys and the Bush Justice Department.

Karl Rove denied everything. There were no orders to prosecute Democrats or to end investigations of Republicans. How silly.

A Congressional investigation was launched and Rove was called to testify. He resigned right away, and declined to testify voluntarily as a private citizen, so his denials did not have to be made under oath. After several more refusals and an eventual contempt citation, Rove agreed to testify in private. The testimony was never released to the rest of us.

Journalist Craig Unger investigated the Siegelman case. He was interviewed by Amy Goodman.

George W. Bush gave appointments to over a hundred campaign contributors and was not prosecuted on any one of those. And it really has been standard operating procedure for hundreds of ambassadors throughout the years, and one administration after another have been campaign contributors.

If Governor Siegelman had actually put contributions into his bank account, or if Georgia Thompson had witnessed some act of bribery, those prosecutions, and those convictions, would have been understandable. Even unavoidable. If anyone put money into the pocket of a government official, that official should be in jail.

Did Trumps inaugural team funnel money to Trump?

ProPublica reporting tonight that the Trump organization may have overcharged Trump’s own inaugural committee for all kinds of things; rooms, meals, event space; at Trump’s hotel in Washington DC during the inauguration. And we’re talking about an incredible amount of money here.

The Trump Hotel is directly owned by Donald Trump. So lots and lots of money went from the inaugural committee directly to my President.

This breaking news coming just one day after the New York Times reported the inaugural committee is under criminal investigation for possibly taking illegal foreign donations. So that’s the money coming in. And now this new reporting on the money going out.

CNN, December 14, 2018

So lots and lots of money illegally coming in.

Did Trump’s inaugural team funnel money to Trump?

Kind of looks that way, doesn’t it?

So lets take a look at the legal math.

In one administration, Republicans order the prosecution of Democrats for bribes that turn out not to be bribes. Some innocent people go to prison. Others are just financially ruined.

In the next Republican administration the President is right out front taking bags of cash. Other Republicans have no reaction. None.

For the record, Georgia Thompson got her lost salary restored. She got another state job in Wisconsin. In 2008, both houses of the Wisconsin legislature voted to pay her back for her legal expenses. It was unanimous. There was no dissent.

Governor Don Siegelman is finally out of prison. His reputation is gone. The conviction stands.

Donald Trump is still President, 60% of his scheduled time invested in writing internet messages disparaging investigations and watching Fox News personalities glorify him.

Thus is the condition of our nation, a condition the recovery from which we still have the freedom to apply ourselves.

This article originally published at FairandUnbalanced.com.

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Posted by on February 11, 2019. Filed under COMMENTARY/OPINION. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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